Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver was against reverting to an eight-game ACC schedule in football and voted as such earlier this week on behalf of the Hokies, although it wasn’t enough to prevent the league from scrapping its nine-game proposal.
Now he and his ACC counterparts will have some work to do to finalize their 2013 schedules.
“Oh my goodness,” he said Thursday. “It will be a mad scramble for the 14 ADs.”
The ACC’s decision Wednesday to go back to an eight-game schedule was largely a concession to Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech, three schools with non-conference rivalry games that didn’t want to play that on top of a nine-game league slate in addition to potentially facing Notre Dame in future years.
“It’s just too much,” Weaver conceded.
So the measure passed and the ACC reverted to the eight-game model, perhaps also a subtle move to entice Notre Dame to join in the future.
But it creates new problems. The biggest one, in Weaver’s estimation, is that rotating Atlantic Division foes in the opposite division will rarely make trips to Blacksburg. Florida State and Clemson, for instance, will play the Hokies in Lane Stadium once every 12 years under the current cycle.
“I thought that was the best way for us to move forward in the future, to advance football in the Atlantic Coast Conference,” he said of the nine-game slate.
In a short-term sense, it creates a big headache for filling out the 2013 schedule. Pittsburgh was set to come onto the schedule as the ninth ACC game instead of being a non-conference meeting. It still will, since the Panthers are now a division foe, but that will require the Hokies to drop one of their tentatively-scheduled Atlantic Division matchups (Maryland or Florida State) to add a fourth non-conference game.
That could be hard to do this late in the process, hence the “mad scramble.”
The Hokies already have Alabama, Marshall and Western Carolina on the schedule. Western Carolina is a team from the Football Championship Subdivision, so Virginia Tech wouldn’t want to add a second FCS team like Florida State had to this season when West Virginia backed out at the last second.
“I don’t want to have happen to us or any of our ACC sister institutions what happened to Florida State this year,” he said. “I mean, that was just a mess.”
Old Dominion, which columnist David Teel of the Daily Press said has fielded calls from plenty of ACC schools, is still considered an FCS school next year as part of its reclassification, so it wouldn’t be a viable option.
Another thought, moving a previously-postponed series with East Carolina back up to next year, will not work, since Teel reported that the Pirates’ schedule is full next year. The Hokies and Pirates begin a four-game series in 2015 and might have discussions in the fall to go beyond that.
Weaver has not ruled out possibly playing a team from the ACC but have it count as a non-conference game, one that wouldn’t count in the league standings.
“Because people are going to need games,” he said. “The closer to our institution, the better it would be. I wouldn’t be opposed to playing Wake the next two years, home-and-home, if they want to play us.”
As for future non-conference scheduling, Weaver said he’ll have to revisit Tech’s philosophy of scheduling one BCS-level opponent, one opponent from a middle-tiered conference like the Conference USA and one FCS school. The extra game allows for some flexibility, and, if there is a silver lining from the announcement, solidifies future matchups with Ohio State (2014-15) and Wisconsin (2016-17).
But Tech must also consider Notre Dame, which Weaver has been told is expected to join the scheduling rotation in 2014. If true, the Fighting Irish will play the Hokies once in either 2014, ’15 or ’16, putting Weaver in a holding pattern in scheduling until he knows for sure.
“We’ve got to get a more exact handle on that from the conference office, so we’ll know what year and whether we’ll be on the road or at home,” he said. “So that’s why we’re going to need to work more closely with the conference office on Notre Dame.”